The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday blew off the Senate's bipartisan proposal to extend a payroll tax cut for two months, instead voting for a conference committee that would work on a bill with the Senate.
Problem is, the Senate is already gone home for the holidays, and won't be returning until Jan. 23. And if the extenstion isn't approved, an estimated 160 million people will see lighter paychecks beginning in January. The tax cut is about $1,000 a year for families, the White House said.
President Barack Obama told Republicans shortly after their vote that they need to "come together right now and do the right thing," noting that the Senate was able to do so, even if it means they must return after the holiday break to negotiate extending the two-month period to a year. "We have more important things to worry about than politics right now," Obama said.
But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wasn't able to muster the votes to pass the Senate bill with the two-month extenstion, and didn't schedule a vote that would have failed -- and would have painted Republicans as raising people's taxes. Instead of voting on the Senate bill, House Republicans voted to meet with the Senate to work out their differences on the tax cut legislation. Boehner went as far as to appoint six "conferees."
Tuesday's 229-193 House vote was largely along party lines, although seven Republicans did vote with Democrats. Miami Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera voted to go to conference with the Senate on the bill, as did and Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation. Democratic Reps. Frederica Wilson of Miami, Alcee Hastings of Miramar, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton voted for it. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, didn't vote -- his office said he was anavailable because of a family medical issue. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, who is running for U.S. Senate in Florida, also voted with fellow Republicans on the bill.
Note: Both Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted for the two-month payroll tax cut extension last week in the Senate, where it passed 89-10.